Camping On Anacapa by Roy Reuben Rosamond









My grandfather, Royal Rosamond, was encouraged to take up writing by Jack and Fanny Cory, tow creative siblings not unlike I and my sister, the world famous artist known as Rosamond.

The Channel Islands remind me of the Isle of Wight where the poets Tennyson and Swineburne lived. It was Royal’s dream to found a retreat for poets. Both of these English poets were inspired by Fair Rosamond.

Jon Presco

IT WAS a glorious summer morning
at the Chautauqua at Ventura-
Bgra by-the-sea. A breeze wafted in
5^™* from off old ocean, Jaden with
mysterious odors — a salt tang — as wel-
come as it was invigorating.

As far out as the eye could reach, a
cobalt mist clung to the bosom of the
sea, above which the peaks and slopes
of the Anacapa Islands appeared, height-
ened by the uncertain thickness of fog.
To the right, on a high plateau, but a
few rods from the beach, “Pierpont
Inn,”, that wonderful hostelry — stood
like an old lion looking out to sea.

Although early, the bathers were
sporting in the surf, shouting their hap-
piness above the thunder and roar of
the breakers. A maiden in a bathing
suit of translucent green came dripping
from the surf, seating herself hear where
the waves were spreading out like great
fans. She began to arrange, with deft
fingers, the massive coils of golden hair.
Suddenly, a great wave rose up,, curved
and spilled, and the contour of her slen-
der body was caught in sharp relief
against the foam — a vision of jade and
ivory and gold perched imperiously be-
yond the waves.

Two couples came up from the sea
and threw themselves upon the clean
white sand to dry — among the dunes
over which appeared the Chautauqua
Building and the rows of white tents —
the tent city.

One of the women shrieked in ecs-
tacy of delight, throwing the dry sand
as she had splashed water the moment
before. “Oh,” she cried. “I am the
mate and the captain bold, and the crew
of the Nancy Lee; I’m going to explore
those islands!” pointing toward Ana-

By Roy Reuben Rosamond

Anacapa twenty miles away.

“Completely wearied by this ocean
air and splendid environment, science,
religion, literature and music and art!”
exclaimed Frank, her husband.

“Certainly not,” laughed the girl,
pelting him with sand. “I expect to
camp here every summer of my life and
rest and hear the lectures and the music,
but a trip to those islands is the missing
link in my chain of happiness. We have
gone sailing, fished and bathed in the
sea, visited the grand old San Buena-
ventura Mission and the Native Daugh-
ter Palms, enjoyed the scenic beauty
of the Matilija and the drive around the
Triangle, and now it must be a trip to
the islands. And so it was agreed that
they would go.

A boat was chartered and the day set
for the trip ovei*.

The Captain steered the boat Anacapa
— the morning that they started — one
point west of south. This would bring
them to the little harbor at the islands.
Perched upon the roof of the cabin,
forward, the women enjoyed every mo-
ment, for the sea was as calm as a lake.
Frank and John were aft, where the trol-
ling lines claimed their attention. Sud-
denly a line stretched taut. “Another
passenger!” Frank shouted; and then the
Captain slowed down until a twenty
pound albacore could be taken aboard.
The excitement was intense until the
fish lay flopping on the deck.

The Santa Barbara Channel is always
interesting to those crossing to or from
the islands. Whales and sharks are
often seen and a trip is seldom made
without passing through a school of
porpoise. Sea gulls circled the air.
A coast line steamer appeared to port
and then dissapeared to starboard, cross-
ing the bow.

“We should be able to see the island
presently” said Frank.

The Captain looked at his watch.
“Three hours out,” he said. “They
are about three miles off.”

“See the arch there at the east end.”
said the Captain. Immediately all eyes



were turned toward the solitary rock
near the larger east island, resembling
the arch of some great gateway.

“How long are the islands?” asked

“About six miles long,” the Captain
replied. “There are three islands in
the group, the west island and the middle
island separated by a gap about ten feet
wide, and the middle and east island
separated by a wide gap, where the
waves of the south meet the channel
waves, making a great roar as they
come together.”

“It appears to me that the west is-
land would afford some hill-climbing,”
said Frank. “It must have been the
peak of a great mountain before the

“Yes, it is difficult to climb,” agreed
the Captain. “It is almost a thousand
feet high. Those dark spots you see
just above the surface of the water are
the caves. And the marine gardens
lie near the shore. Can you see the camp
there near the first gap? That is where
we land. We call it Webster Bay.”

“See the houses there on the middle
island!” Rose exclaimed.

“They were built years ago, by Fish-
ermen, and are now used by the campers.
Just below them there is a cave that
has never been explored and which roars

The islands became more interesting
as the launch drew nearer. More caves
came into view. The rough jagged
rocks became more and more picturesque.
A seal thrust his head above the water
near a great garden of golden kelp.

It was twelve o’clock when the Anacapa
dropped anchor in Webster Bay. Every-
one declared that it had struck twelve
in their stomaches fully an hour before,
so keen was their hunger. So they went
ashore with only that part of the camp-
ing outfit that would respond to their
immediate wants. No need of haste
here in this other world where whistles
did not blow nor the telephone ring.

They chose a sandy shelf high above
the rocky beach, with a pathway lead-
ing up to it; and here they pitched their
tents. The real exploration began early
the next morning, after an out-of-door
breakfast. They secured one of the
Captain’s skiffs — and started toward

the marine gardens and the Painted
Caves, which are only a short distance
west of the harbor.

Soon they were looking over the edge
of the skiff at the wonders beneath
them. Mysterious, busy life swarmed
everywhere. The marine gardens ex-
tend to the very entrance of the Painted
Cave. Golden kelp swings back and
forth as the violet waves go slowly
in and out; but beyond the narrow en-
trance the water widens into a minia-
ture lake, and the receding walls and
roof are plainly visible.

Within the great dome-like cavity
a narrow: beach makes a half circle, and
here they left the skiff, climbing up the
sloping back-wall as if passing up the
aisle of same great theater. Water
lashing against the stony beach sent
up a sound to be pitched back and forth
against the walls until it became a hol-
low, awesome sound, filling the cave
with a roar.

The cave is about three hundred feet
in diameter and over a hundred high.
It is color rather than dimension that
makes it attractive. It looks as if a
painter had mixed, in turn, the brightest
colors with green, throwing the result
promisciously against the walls and roof.
The fact that the colors are always fresh
and vivid is a mystery to many.

The Painted Cave is the most beauti-
ful wonder-spot about Anacapa. The
nature lover will travel as far to see it
as the art lover to view a masterpiece
in painting.

West of the Painted Cave perpendi-
cular walls of rock come down to meet
the sea. A bald-headed eagle was perch-
ed on a high pinnacle like a guardian
of the isles.

The Water Cave was the next place
to be visited. Here the only fresh water,
excepting that caught in a cistern below
the houses, trickles down the walls,
watering the wild flowers growing in
natural jardeniers, being finally caught
in a cement basin some thoughtful fish-
erman had made some time before.

That afternoon they passed through
an arch in the ridge of the island and
explored a portion of the south side afoot,
the beaches where the moonstones
abound and the shells of many pattern
lure one into searching for them.



Of all the shells none are so beautiful
as the abalone. Some seem to have
caught, in some mysterious manner, the
sheen of moonlight upon the water, still
others the crimson and gold of the sun-
set sea.

“Come,” said the Captain the next
morning. “We are going to the east
end of the island and see the arch and
will troll on the way.” This was an
invitation to all the campers, and so the
Anacapa glided away.

On the way to the east end the launch
passed by many interesting places. Just
below the houses there is a place called
Stingaree Bay, a narrow beach, the en-
trance of which is lined with jagged
rock-points. Here the Winfield Scott,
that merchantman of the olden, golden
days of California, loaded with gold dust
and bound for Panama, ran ashore in
the fog, Sept. 1852, and was wrecked.
A few of her crew managed to cross the
channel in a small boat, landing some-
where in the vicinity of Ventura, where
they sent a messenger by relay to San
Francisco and a rescue ship was sent
out from that port, reaching the remain-
ing crew of the wrecked ship after their
many days of hardship and suffering.
Not a man of the crew was lost, although
it was believed that only a portion of the
gold was recovered. For years a por-
tion of the half-submerged ship remained
in the little cove, its wreckage strewn
upon the narrow beach, but piece by
piece it has been taken by visitors and
cherished as a relic.

One day one of the women said leave
me to solitude and nature today I want
to write a letter home and then she settled
herself on the sand and wrote:

“They call this a barren rock — this
Anacapa Island — but yesterday the tide
was low, leaving the plant life exposed.
I wish that I could name the varieties
of sea weed and moss and their wonder-
ful color, but I drop my pen in despair
of ever giving you any conception of
them. The marine gardens grow upon
submerged rocks, for I discovered a
little sand path between them resembl-
ing the pathway of a garden. Hard
against a rock affording protection from
the direct sweep of the waves, I found
a multi-colored star-fish, his back covered,
at regular intervals, with tiny spheres

of white, as if a mermaid had decorated
it with pearls.

— “I think that the real charm of
these islands is the color and the clean,
pure sea. One day we looked down into
the sea from a great distance, into the
green and purple depths and the creamr
white racing foam. Purity! How near
God seems over here. One grows ac-
customed to looking at the life below
rather than the life above the water,
so deep can the eyes penetrate.

— “We have been here five days, have
eaten fish twice a day and have not
served the same kind twice. The law
on crawfish has been in force for two
years and is just out. The fisherman
are busy with their traps! We found
a cove where large crawfish abound, and
went to get one, with no other weapon
than the oars. The water was clear
and shallow, and there they were hugging
the grass-grown walls of the cove only
three feet beneath us. Frank stabbed
one with an oar.

— “This morning we climbed the middle
island and visited the ancient burial
ground. Judging from the dimensions
of their camping ground, which is strewn
with de-composed sea shells, there must
have been a large tribe here at one time.

— “Last night phosphorescence cover-
ed the whole surface of the sea and
when the great waves broke and pored
they sent out great flashes of shattered
light and glimmer. John threw a rock
into a quiet spot and as it descended it
left behind it myriad sparks like a comet’s
tail. Fish would pass near the shore,
with two streams of light trailing back
on either side. The spectral depths
were all aglow.

— “One of the island peaks reminds me
of the Statue of Liberty. And just
west of our camp there is a likeness of
George Washington on a point of rock
that juts out into the foam.

— “We must start for home tomorrow,
for our ten days provisions have lasted
but a week. Such appetites! Our main
diet, now, being fish. We are coming
again next year, but will be provided for
ajlonger stay, you may be sure of that.”

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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